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Daniel L. What to do with journals

Discussion in 'Ask a TMS Therapist' started by enigma, Aug 2, 2014.

  1. enigma

    enigma New Member

    This question was submitted via our Ask a TMS Therapist program. To submit your question, click here.

    What is reccomended to do once a journal has been filled up. Do you throw it away or keep it to refer back to?
  2. Daniel G Lyman LCSW

    Daniel G Lyman LCSW TMS Therapist

    The purpose of a journal (with regard to TMS) is to help you process the emotions you're currently exploring. The journaling can be about situations in the past or present, but the idea is that the emotions that are being processed are in the present. Because the purpose is to emotionally process the present, it is not necessary to refer back to your journals (which are a history of past emotions). That said, some of my clients have enjoyed looking back and seeing their progress.

    Honestly, it doesn't matter too much whether you keep it or throw it away - it's entirely up to you.

    Any advice or information provided here does not and is not intended to be and should not be taken to constitute specific professional or psychological advice given to any group or individual. This general advice is provided with the guidance that any person who believes that they may be suffering from any medical, psychological, or mindbody condition should seek professional advice from a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions. No general advice provided here should be taken to replace or in any way contradict advice provided by a qualified, registered/licensed physician and/or psychotherapist who has the opportunity to meet with the patient, take a history, possibly examine the patient, review medical and/or mental health records, and provide specific advice and/or treatment based on their experience diagnosing and treating that condition or range of conditions.

    The general advice and information provided in this format is for informational purposes only and cannot serve as a way to screen for, identify, or diagnose depression, anxiety, or other psychological conditions. If you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions please contact a licensed mental health practitioner for an in-person consultation.

    Questions may be edited for brevity and/or readability.

    honey badger and Wow - Really?! like this.
  3. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi, Enigma.
    Journaling led to me discovering the repressed emotions I have since childhood.
    I've keep the journal in a file but haven't referred back to it since, two years ago.
    I keep it in case I want to re-read and re-think those repressed emotions.
  4. enigma

    enigma New Member

    Thanks alot for the reply back guys, much appreciated!
  5. Peggy

    Peggy Well known member

    I burn my journal papers after I write them. I figure my emotions are so toxic it is best to destroy the paper version of those emotions. I had a journal I kept in high school, every once in a while I would look at it, at one point I decided it was best not to look at those past emotions anymore. They are the past and that is that, so I threw them away. I am not much into keeping "stuff" anyway.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  6. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'd be very courious to know what other people do with their old journals. I keep them because, in some cases there was a real sense of discovery associated with them and I'd like to have the option of seeing what I was like way back when.

    What do others do?
  7. Ellen

    Ellen Beloved Grand Eagle

    Forest, I didn't think you journaled.

    I'm torn what to do with mine. I like to look back at them to see the progress I've made. But I have some fear of them being read by others if something happened to me and my stuff had to be dealt with. Maybe I should start journaling on the computer and keep it in a password protected file in the cloud?
  8. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Oh, yes, I'm a huge journaler and have been since I was 14. I have several boxes of old journals in storage and if you lined them all up, they would take about 4 feet of bookshelf space. I didn't do it as much when my TMS was bad because I didn't have a way to put it in writing. These days I mostly type.

    I don't do it daily, but rather when I have something that I want to work on - if I can feel that I am beginning to understand something that I didn't see before. For example, the story of my last 2-3 years has been developing my awareness of my own emotions, and I use journaling to reinforce any progress I make in getting more in touch with my emotions. For me, most of getting in touch with my unconscious emotions is a moment-to-moment practice, but the journaling can help as I learn that practice.

    I hear you on the idea of keeping the journals, though, Ellen. I'd love to hear what others do as well...
    plum likes this.
  9. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    Ellen, I'm kind of cautious about what personal stuff I put on the computer.
    I'd keep your journal in a safe place at home.
  10. tarala

    tarala Well known member

    Ellen I have the same fear about family members reading them if something should happen to me. We all go sometime after all. For me that means that if I didn't know I was going to destroy them it would be difficult to not censor myself, which would really defeat the purpose. I tear them up and throw them away pretty much straight away.
    Forest likes this.
  11. Peggy

    Peggy Well known member

    I had a friend who had Cancer and eventually passed away at 44 years old. I don't suppose she knew she was going to die when she went into the hospital the last time. Anyway a month or two after her passing I went to visit her husband. He said he had read her journals and they were sort of sketchy (basically, they didn't say good things but I can't remember the exact word he used). She was very toxic at the end and I am sure her journals were filled with negative emotions no one else would really understand. She eventually made amends with some people in her life and passed away after making peace in her life. But her journals didn't reflect that. Anyway, I view this as a good reason not to keep a journal hanging around. No one will ever really understand all those negative emotions. I can understand why some of you would find it a concern.
    danielle and Forest like this.
  12. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    I saved many of my journals for many years. (I've journaled since high school like you, Forest.) I decided to start purging them several years ago and anymore, I burn journal when they are full. Having said that, I usually have other notebooks floating around that are more brainstorming and ideas…stuff I wouldn't mind one of my kids stumbling upon. The stuff from my young adult days was occasionally fun to revisit but….recalling the angst :spitoutdummy:…no, thanks...

    The personal journals however has stuff that is dark and deep and would benefit no one should they ever be found. When I burn a journal, it is done with gratitude and reflection on what I've overcome. I don't think I could write as candidly if I had concern over someone reading it. Or even, if God forbid, I die suddenly - and hey- half of my large family has already died off so I am acutely aware of that being a possibility.

    I told Dr. Schubiner that even his workbook would be burned (in celebration) when I finished it. ("I've never had anyone tell me they were going to burn my book but that sounds like a good reason," he replied.)

    Depending on what I'm journaling on, I will even burn the pages that same day. And "Unsent Letter" getting sent…uh, that would not be good. :eek:
    plum, danielle and Forest like this.
  13. Ollin

    Ollin Peer Supporter

    I write everything in a password-protected file on the computer, and don't put it on any network or cloud drive. Tried to have a paper journal but it was just to scary that someone would read it. I sometimes look back at old entries knowing there is plenty of information that I intended to address, but never got around to it. Also, the earlier thoughts and feelings might closer reflect what was going on in my emotional life when my symptoms started, so it's a useful reference to what I might have forgotten.
    North Star, tarala and Forest like this.
  14. whirlingdervish

    whirlingdervish New Member

    Hi, just wanted to join in this fascinating discussion. I have written a journal since I was 11. Some periods I'd write every day, others not for months at a time. During really difficult/painful periods I've barely written anything. Mostly they're filled with dilemmas, about love, about big decisions in my life, or I write about ambitions and plans and visions, or observations about my personality. Or attempts to change things in my life, like plans to keep to new habits or routines. Some things are a bit cringeworthy (and I remember thinking they were embarrassing at the time, but still felt the need to get them down). I use them to sort of sort out my thoughts and figure things out.

    I'm not sure how I got the idea, but every few years I'd do a visualisation exercise where I'd write a diary of the future. (I still do it actually, just did it a few months ago). I'd pick a date, usually two years into the future, and write a couple of days diary recording the day to day events in my made up future life. Was a great chance to imagine daily life in a different setting, maybe surrounded by different people, etc. I'd put all the awesome things in it that my current life didn't have, like pets, or spontaneous nights out, or an exciting job, etc., plus a few made up stresses. It's fun.

    I can't imagine throwing my journals away. They're a part of my soul - though I'd never really referred back to them much until now. I'm looking through them to help me discover parts of my life/emotions I'd forgotten about. As Ollin says, it's a valuable reference. I've just asked my parents to post me some from when I was younger.

    Mostly, until two weeks ago, I hadn't written about anything that was overtly negative/traumatic. Though I had written things I didn't want others to read. And I have had them read. My mum read my journal when I was 17 and found out about all sorts of things I'd been up to, and it caused havoc in my life. So I switched to typing on a computer for awhile where my parents wouldn't find it. But it still didn't put me off journalling. I guess I trust my parents enough now not to do that when they post them! Though honestly I don't think anything from that long ago would matter to them now.

    The thoughts I'm writing down now during my healing process are a lot harder to read. Maybe I will delete/destroy them when they've served their purpose.
  15. Shirley

    Shirley Peer Supporter

    This is a good discussion--I have a huge box of my journals of the last almost 40 years--at the time I write in them they help me surface things (sometimes) and build consciousness. But just this week I am returning from moving my parents out of their impacted home of 42 years and inspired about decluttering. I think I could learn something, retain some memory by reading this box of paper, but WHATEVER FOR? Once I took a journaling workshop and the teacher asked "who are you writing for?" --a question I couldn't answer. Don't want others to read them, because they would reveal me as the shallow person I am.:nailbiting: Still, two of the boxes moved from my parents' were journals from both my maternal and paternal grandparents. One wrote journals from her extensive travels and the other has the more-grounded daily farm report. Interesting soundbites of history. Hmmm.
  16. Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021)

    Walt Oleksy (RIP 2021) Beloved Grand Eagle

    The journals from your grandparents could be very interesting to your children and grandchildren, so I wouldn't discard them.
    You could have them self-published for free at CreateSpace.com

    Converting the journals into a book manuscript could be fun and therapeutic.

    CreateSpace can walk you through the process of getting the journals published as a paperback book and Kindle edition.
    All free! But first you have to write the journals into a book manuscript, double-spaced.
  17. Shirley

    Shirley Peer Supporter

    Thanks, good suggestions.
  18. Cheryl

    Cheryl Peer Supporter

    I usually rip up my writing as soon as I am done or after reading through it once. This is so I can write anything...those forbidden thoughts that are causing rage in my inner child but the inner parent wants to suppress. Often these things would be very embarrassing to me if someone read them or very hurtful to the person reading them. So the small chance that my writing may be seen would sensor me from writing what I am feeling. If I know I am going to destroy my written words I can really let loose! I do keep certain pages that I feel would be helpful to reread such as certain insights and lists.
    I still have a diary I wrote on and off from age 12 to 16. Since I always worried my mom would snoop, I was very careful what I wrote. This resulted in a very shallow accounting of this time in my life as well as being the most boring diary in history!
    Ellen likes this.
  19. Colly

    Colly Beloved Grand Eagle

    Keep them! I stumbled on one recently and it made me laugh. I was having a difficult time at work with my uncooperative co-workers several thousand miles away on the other side of the country, and filled a whole page mostly with the F word!
  20. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi All,

    I tend to destroy mine, it's very well to hold onto them to acknowledge growth and development, but from a personal stand point I think once I have visited a painful emotion/issue and processed it I want to let go of it and move on. For me, revisiting it could mean I start thinking in the same way and obsessing over it. Therefore, once I have released it, accepted it, I want to let go and if I feel I haven't truly let go and the thought re-occurs I try and dig deeper.

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